But if there’s something that’s even more famous than Penang street art, that’s Penang cafes.
Since George Town started gentrifying and tourists come in great numbers, Penang cafes have grown like mushrooms all over the island, offering all sorts of options, from the best Western food in Penang, to some of its best coffee.
Don’t know which famous Penang cafe to choose as there are so many? You came to the right place: this article is the ultimate guide to check out Penang’s cafe scene. With all these options, you may find at least one of Penang’s famous cafes that you fancy trying. And if you want a stronger drink, check out this list of the best bars in Penang.
From the top cafes in Penang to the newest cafes in Penang, we have collected almost all of them, making this the best guide on Penang cafes you’ll ever find on the Internet!
So, without further ado, welcome to the world of Penang hipster cafes, where every shade of coffee bean and cake has been tried, tested, and perfected… have your pick, and salivate over some of Penang’s best cafes.
NOTE: This article was published during business closure related to Malaysia’s Movement Control Order to reduce the curve of COVID–19 infections. All of the establishments we recommend here, however, have been contacted and confirmed that they at least offer takeaway services. We have provided links to the Facebook pages of each individual establishment, so that you may ask for more details yourself.
Best Cafes in Penang
Urban Daybreak is a trendy artisan cafe located in the heart of George Town, Penang. Founded by a group of friends who believes in good soul cooking, Urban Daybreak aims to tantalize the tastebuds with authentic Australian breakfast and brunch. It’s one of the best cafes for Western breakfast in Penang.
From waffles (some featuring burnt peach and an assortment of summer berries topped with maple drizzle) to omelets and duck sausages for breakfast, Urban Daybreak’s menu is definitely Haute, but absolutely casual.
Here’s a map of Urban Daybreak’s location:
This is the cafe that started Penang cafe history, and can’t miss any list of Penang best cafes. Founded by Australian Narelle McMurtrie even before Penang street art started luring the tourists in, some say it’s been a blessing, some say a bane that led to gentrification. But everyone also says that their selection of cakes — more than 30 different types — are to die for.
Housed in a beautiful original Chinese shophouse (hence the name), Chinahouse retains a traditional central open courtyard filled with trees and a pond, it has a restaurant and the Canteen, which is one of the bars for nightlife in Penang.
If you are looking for a Penang Cafe and just one, this is the original you shouldn’t miss.
Here’s a map of Chinahouse’s location:
Constant Gardener is truly a local shrine to coffee: their care it’s palpable – think that they even spent time improving their water filtration system for the exact purpose of having better water for their brews.
They focus mainly on coffees, hot chocolates, and matcha latte. Their Speciality Range coffee (RM10 Black and RM12 Latte) rotates beans seasonally, while there’s also a cheaper option, the “Penang Coffee” brew, which’s only RM6 for Black and RM8 for a Latte. Hot chocolates experience the same level of care.
Definitely come here if your main objective is having a great coffee, rather than cafe food. But don’t forget the cheesecakes.
Here’s a map of Constant Gardener’s location:
Even if it’s right in the thick of Penang backpacker-centric Love Lane, Wheeler’s is a bit in a class of its own, with two floors furnished in rattan and wood.
Coffee addicts will love their wide array of brews, which they describe ranging from “floral” to “creamy”.
Besides freshly brewed coffee, Wheeler’s also sells cold brew coffee. There are 2 flavours available at the moment- cold brew latte and cold brew black. But there’s also space for cocktails, fruit smoothies, and milkshakes (from RM16).
It’s also a popular Penang breakfast spot for Western food, pizzas, nachos, and all that jazz. The diverse menu will appeal to most tastes, and fit well all eating choices from breakfast to dinner. Their thin-crust pizza and pasta are always popular.
Here’s a map of Wheeler’s location:
Oh, the fresh croissants, pastries, espressos, and loaves of bread here… so talked about and delicious. But digressing over the zesty selection of Western-inspired mains on offer at this hip eatery would be a big understatement. When they added a Michelin-trained chef in 2019, their menu spruced up with treats like baby octopus and angel hair pasta and creamy mushroom soup — shitake, Abalone, and Button fungi galore. Still, breakfast platters here are a tradition, and their eggs and bacon, plus egg sandwiches and filled omelets are some of the best in central George Town.
Here’s a map of Black Kettle’s location:
6Cerita Cafe at Hikayat
Tucked at the back of art space-cum-bookshop Hikayat along Beach street, Cerita Cafe is a hidden gem for book lovers. Buy your book and head over to this spacious and well-lit room to try a coffee or one of their special desserts and pastries.
The bent here is definitely Euro-French, with an offer of quiche, cakes, and pastries that blend European tastes with local jams and pandan scents. Did I say you may meet another bookworm here, and strike a conversation instead of keeping staring into your damn Instagram?
Here’s a map of Cerita Cafe’s location:
Gudang is a warehouse-style (hence the name in Malay) industrial-chic café in the heart of Georgetown, near to some of the most famous Penang Street Art. The beauty of this place is its large main room, furnished with heavy wooden tables and strewn with high stool – like mixing a bistro with a cocktail bar.
They serve up Japanese-inspired fare with a Southeast Asian twist, and their coffee beans are sourced from Ethiopia, Colombia, Myanmar, and India.
Here’s a map of Gudang Cafe’s location:
Macallum Connoisseurs is housed within a large warehouse, completely decked out in fine industrial-chic details. There’s plenty of seating room here, making it a great option to host large gatherings.
The venue is a coffee roastery, academy, restaurant, and cafe all under the same roof. Costing RM100 an hour, Macallum Connoisseurs coffee academy teaches you the basics of the barista, such as grinding and brewing coffee, advanced latte techniques, or hand-crafted brewing.
Opens daily, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Here’s a map of Macallum Connoisseurs’ location:
9Frank Laurent Coffee Roasters
Frank Laurent has several outlets around the city, but their first and more established is on the ground floor of Udini Square.
The main sala is large, with tall wall windows that allow for plenty of natural light and offer a welcoming, industrial-chic loft-like atmosphere.
Frank Laurent surprised me with their wide selection of international coffee beans. Frank Laurent uses an American-made Diedrich machine to roast their beans, bringing each batch to produce unique coffee flavors and aromas.
Frank Laurent may also be the only Penang coffee shop where you can get coffee made with different beans imported from some far-flung parts of the world, including Ethiopia, El Salvador, and others. They are roasted on rotation pretty much every fortnight — all at the discretion of Frank and his baristas.
Read our full review of Frank Laurent Coffee Roasters
Here’s a map of Frank Laurent Coffee Roasters’ main location:
A Tanjung Bunga neighborhood hangout that’s popular with the expats living in the area, Gusto is homey and has the whole range of the Penang cafe experience – from espressos to burgers and cinnamon rolls.
The coffee is roasted on-site, with beans coming from Southeast Asia or a local coffee plantation in Penang.
Here’s a map of Gusto Cafe’s location:
11Mugshot Cafe & Rainforest Bakery
Loved by many thanks to its good coffee and western-style bagels, Mugshot is a long-standing option in backpacker-centric Chulia Street. The cafe is housed within a traditional shophouse and has its own bakery specializing in bread and bagels. They are served simple, with a dash of cream and cheese (RM 7.40), or have more filling (and expensive) options such as smoked salmon, turkey ham, bacon, and egg, or the sweet-tooth Nutella and Banana concoction (RM 13.80). Their espressos are mean, and their yogurts tasty and healthy, too.
Here’s a map of Mughsot Cafe’s location:
12Chapel Street Cafe, Belle and Cream and Yun
This cafe is essentially three in one: Chapel Street Cafe is an Australian-inspired plant-filled coffee shop that’s perfect to find a quiet corner in the city. It’s annexed to Belle and Cream next door, which is dessert heaven, specializing in burnt cheesecake – a Basque specialty that’s quite popular in Penang these days – and bubble tea.
Cheesecakes (RM18–22) come in a range of flavors from matcha to milk tea, and have a thick caramelized crust and a side of tapioca pearls. At last, Yun is all about homemade ice cream, with scoops at about RM10. A very addictive trinity of tastes, and remember, it’s closed on Tuesdays.
Here’s a map of Chapel Street Cafe’s location:
Tucked behind the Goddess of Mercy Temple and right on Penang Little India doorstep.
It’s well-known for its coffee and especially for its churros (Spanish-style dough fritters), which are the best — and possibly the only — in Penang. This cafe is small and intimate, housed in a Chinese shophouse, and easy to miss because the signboard doesn’t even carry its name.
Open from 9 am to 6 pm.
Here’s a map of The Alley’s location:
Born in a former long and narrow location along Carnarvon Street that gave it the name, Narrow Marrow moved to a larger space in Beach Street.
Started as a community bar for artists, Narrow Marrow developed into a proper artsy cafe and is famous for its tiramisu, coffee, and their signature toddy (rice palm wine) mojito — punchy, sweet, and sour.
Owned by an architect and an artist, every nook here is some sort of a work of art, and the new location still draws part of the local art community but doesn’t dub it as night hang out anymore — at least, for the moment being.
Here’s a map of Narrow Marrow’s location:
15Yin’s Sourdough Bakery
If you want to taste a proper European-style breakfast, with freshly baked croissants, perfectly-roasted coffee, and maybe a platter of English baked beans and toast, this bakery is the place to go for an all-day breakfast and bread-based tidbits.
Coffee is also prepared with real attention to detail and a perfect taste: their beans are specially blended by their friends at Bayan Coffee Roasters and are 100% arabica, a blend from Guatemala and Brazil. They are always roasted fresh exclusively for Yin’s, and never older than 2 weeks.
Open 8 am to 5 pm, closed on Wednesdays.
Here’s a map of Yin’s Sourdough Bakery’s location:
16Chill Out Cafe Batu Ferringhi
Popular with the expatriates that live in the area and all the way down to Tanjung Bunga, Chill Out Cafe is a homey and cozy cafe with a line of cutesy small tables spilling on the curb outside and a bar-meets-bistro vibe.
Their menus offer the classic English breakfast, french toast, and croissants, but also a decent collection of sandwiches and wraps (the beef bacon wrap will satisfy most).
It’s a social place where you’ll be certainly able to have a bite around the clock, as there’s also pizza, chicken-based mains and the basic selection of kinds of pasta (Aglio olio, carbonara, pesto, and bolognese).
Open 9 am to 5 pm, closed on Mondays.
Here’s a map of Chill Out Cafe’s location:
17Kim Haus Penang
Probably better known as a small hotel and live music venue than a cafe, but the first floor of Kim Haus, a heritage building at the end of Campbell Street, has all the coffee and cakes you’ll need.
The first floor is cozier, with a bar and an open veranda that’s great to sit and chill with your food and company.
Here’s a map of Kim Haus’ location:
18Creameal Handcrafted Ice Cream
Lining the front of popular art gallery Hin Bus Depot, this cafe with exposed brick walls is dedicated to homemade ice cream.
Creameal uses 100% fresh cream, milk, and real ingredients to produce the best quality ice cream with no artificial preservatives used.
You can order your ice cream scoop (there are about 15 flavors available, including gula apong, salted caramel, Belgium milk chocolate, Jasmine Green Tea, Thai Mil tea, roasted banana almond and others) by itself or served on a waffle that makes it all the more yummy – and a good reason to sit and dine in.
Wednesday to Monday 11 am – 8 pm, Closed Tuesday
Here’s a map of Creameal’s location:
Brown Pocket is a coffee shop specializing in Liege waffles and pancakes. Besides that, it’s a great chill-out place for quality couverture chocolate dessert and great coffee served daily by skilled baristas.
The inside decor is unique, with a wide seating area at whose center a lamp shaped as giant tree sprouts from the floor, providing not just a perfectly lit environment, but also quite an interesting setting to chill out and have coffee and waffles with friends. Check it out.
Open daily 10 am to 10 pm.
Here’s a map of Brow Pocket’s location:
2020 Chulia Lane Cafe
This hole-in-the-wall, cozy cafe’ focuses on what matters most, which is the dark brew: all their coffees are served with double espresso shots.
It doesn’t mean you won’t find anything to dunk your forks in, by the way: the baked salmon pasta and tall, thick Haus Burger with chicken and homemade slaw are pretty delicious.
Here’s a map of 20 Chulia Lane Cafe’s location:
21Urban Artisan Cafe
Founded in 2016, Urban Artisan is another homegrown brand dedicated to soft-serve ice cream and desserts, offering over 50 different ice cream flavors.
Don’t think it’s all about ice cream though, rather a smorgasbord of dessert choices, from Bubble Waffle with Ice Cream to Tiramisu.
Open daily from 1 pm to 10 pm.
Here’s a map of Urban Artisan Cafe’s location:
Opened in March 2021, this new kid on the block of Penang cafes has a beautiful interior with rattan chairs and lamps, cutesy white tables, and exposed bricks on one of the walls.
They make coffee mixed with coconut water, which is believed to make the taste of coffee less bitter. It’s also a brunch spot, dishing up Iberico pork carbonara and ice honeycomb lattes that many recommend.
Open daily 8 am to 6 pm, closed Wednesdays
Here’s a map of PACE Coffee’s location:
23Unknown Cafe & Bistro
Just opened in 2021 regardless of coronavirus restrictions and slow business, Unknown has tall ceilings and a mostly white-hued ambiance. It’s a cafe by day and bistro at night, meaning they serve dinners, too.
Food-wise, expect a bonanza of fried and Western-style stuff which include curly fries, crispy french fries, chicken nuggets, hash browns, chicken pasta, and even a dedicated Japanese menu, with items ranging from prawn and chicken tempura to chicken katsu donburi.
Their blended ice frappes (RM15.90) are also delicious and very original – think salted caramel and coffee.
Here’s a map of Unknown Cafe & Bistro’s location:
Opened in December 2020, TEMU is yet another new kid on the block of Penang’s Cafe scene. The logo ‘TEMU’ is to play with M letter as it showing 2 persons meet or shaking hands. This logo story goes back to the definition of the word ‘Temu’ itself (meet) with brings the tagline “Kamu & Kopi”
Waffogato, a blend of affogato coffee with a waffle, is curious and a must-try, without forgetting the marble Nutella burnt cheesecake.
Here’s a map of TEMU’s location:
25OME by Spacebar Coffee
Hole in the wall, heart and soul cafe tucked in a shabby-chic Chinese shophouse down an alley. If you want your coffee authentic, without all the buzz and people that many Penang cafes get, OME Spacebar is a great option.
The focus here is on brews, which can be paired with cakes and other desserts, and the baristas are fun people to talk to. A homey cafe to hang out with friends, quite recommended.
Here’s a map of OME by Spacebar Coffee’s location:
26Bean Sprout Cafe
With a beautiful rustic two-story heritage building decked in Penang’s quintessential industrial-chic style, and set along the historic and super-central Jalan Masjid Kaitan Keling, Bean Sprout Cafe is perfect for both coffee lovers and food hunters.
Besides brews, you can sit here and try a wide range of foods from their superb brunch selection, which includes, among others, the zesty avocado pasta, honey roast chicken, crispy salmon salad, and the German sausage platter (RM40 for four different types of sausage).
And the bread is homemade, which is always a plus in our book.
Here’s a map of Bean Sprout Cafe’s location:
With two outlets — one in Jalan Kelawai near Gurney Drive, which is roomier and more upmarket, and one in George Town, with the characteristic shabby-chic style — KAFKA coffee has carved a reputation for strong coffee and good food.
They serve a pretty good ALL-DAY BREAKFAST, meaning, you can get a lip-smacking triple cheese omelet or avocado toast anytime from 8 am till 9.30 pm.
Here’s a map of KAFKA Coffee’s location:
Just a couple doors down from Chinahouse is ZEN 161 (formerly known as GAYO coffee), a relatively new cafe-cum-patisserie with a charming indoor seating area.
Many come for their Zen Afternoon Tea (available daily from 12 pm to 6 pm) which includes vanilla raisin scones served with butter and jam, fruit tarts, chocolate devil cake, red velvet cake, and sandwiches at RM89.90 for three people. Not a bad deal.
Here’s a map of ZEN 161’s location:
Most Instagrammable cafes in Penang
There’s a lot of Penang cafes, but the following are some of the best if you want to take some great shots for the Gram. The ambiance, natural surroundings, atmosphere all make the following Penang cafes stand out as great backgrounds for pictures.
Set inside a townhouse behind a garden filled with plants, Lunabarcoffee is removed from the hustle of George Town and makes for a nice change of scenery.
Inside, the setting is peaceful and minimal-chic, with low wooden tables and a veranda filled with hanging plants that’s a delight to sit at with a cuppa in hand. There’s no sign, so look for the house full of plants. It’s open daily from 9 am to 6 pm.
Here’s a map of Lunabar’s location:
A Tropical and Pink Themed Cafe Matcho Cafe is a cutesy, pink-hued cafe with a tropical style decor — think rattan chair and low wooden tables, hanging swings, and plenty of potted plants — that specializes in Matcha and Chocolate Drinks and Desserts, and is located in the heart of George Town. This is one of the most Instagrammable cafes in Penang.
Beyond coffees and lattes, the food here is quite interesting too: the Matcho Fries, well cooked and flooded with mayo and ketchup, are seriously tempting.
But again, the focus here is on matcha: the Rose Matcha pancake stacks, garnished with ice cream and toppings like fresh strawberries, are delicious. Let’s not forget the Matcha Tiramisu and their Matcha drinks.
It’s opened Wednesdays – Mondays 10.30 am – 10.30 pm (Closed Tuesdays)
Here’s a map of Matcho Cafe’s location:
31Nada Natural Farming
This private and exclusive organic farm has become some sort of an Instagram sensation among Penang Cafes — for a good reason, as it’s tucked within the greenery of Balik Pulau.
Nada Natural Farming has simple outdoor seating and a charming gazebo covered by climbing plants. They serve pastas (from 25RM and up) garnished with ingredients straight from their organic farm, coffee, and their own homemade series of different-tasting keffir drinks. Each bottle is about 450ml for 25RM and can be shared among friends. Come if you wish to experience a hip and trendy bistro tucked within a patch of quiet greenery, and far away from the coffee scene of George Town.
It’s only open from Friday to Sunday, customer are allowed to visit and dine-in either from 4 to 6 pm or 6 pm to 8 pm.
Here’s a map of Nada Natural Farming’s location:
Looking for something very special to spruce up your Insta-feed? There’s a hip Penang cafe even on the top of Penang Hill, right next to the Monkey Cup garden, and filled with a collection of plants that brings the feel of the surrounding jungle right to the edge of your table.
Their signature coffee “Kopi Hutan”, served in a tall Italian-style mocha coffee pot, blends five types of different coffee beans from different countries. You may want to try their best-selling onde onde cake, which tastes like the Malaysian “onde-onde kuih”.
Keep in mind that Kopi Hutan is to the west side of Penang Hill, and it’s a 40 minutes walk from the Funicular Train Upper Station. They do offer a free 4WD pick-up service for paying customers though, so you may want to call ahead.
Here’s a map of Kopi Hutan’s location:
Pik Nik is the jewel of Penang Cafes along Nagore Road, and it’s been around for a long time. It was here that the original scene or artists including Ernest Zacharevic who initiated Penang street art used to get together in the early 2010s.
The ambiance is cool and cozy, like a friend’s house decked out for a slumber party, and there’s a lot of local charm here too — their motto is “Good Friends Never Bojio”.
One of their specialties is the waffles and coffee, but there’s quite an assortment of yummy cafe food, oriented on the Western-style, such as pasta (pumpkin and bacon and smoked duck Aglio Olio are very yummy).
Open daily from 11.30 am to 8 pm.
Here’s a map of Pik Nik’s location:
34Norm Micro Roastery
Norm Micro Roastery is a coffee roaster and cafe. Situated in the heart of George Town’s business district, it boasts a large space with high ceilings and skylights, minimal-chic furnishings, and industrial-polished pavements and concrete, Norm Micro Roastery is unique among Penang cafes.
It’s so large and well-lit that it seems like this cafe has no roof, while on the contrary, it is fully shaded and air-conditioned.
Besides strong coffee, the menu has plenty of healthy food options ranging from granola and chia pudding to French toast, pasta, and even Italian risotto. The tiramisu is one of their signature offerings and really must-try.
Here’s a map of Norm Micro Roastery’s location:
35Project CAN by Haru Hari (Penang’s first caravan cafe)
Opened at the end of December 2020, and probably the first Penang cafe in Taman Gelugur (it’s not far from Bukit Dumbar/LOTUS supermarket, but in quite an unknown part of the town for the average Penang traveler) CAN by Haru Hari is also Penang’s (and Malaysia’s, we suppose) first caravan cafe.
The concept here is to offer quality coffee paired with nature vibes, but Project CAN actually function as a full-fledged restaurant. The food is on the pricey, very researched and worldly type – think minestrone, Norway Ponzu Salmon Fillet, Rosemary chicken, and Aussie Lamb Shank. There’s quite a varied selection of international alcohol too, so you won’t come here just to sip coffee.
Here’s a map of Project CAN by Haru Hari’s location:
36Coffee on the Table at the Shinise
Coffee On The Table established itself as the first 3D art coffee in town. What is it? Order a cappuccino, and see what the baristas here can do with your foam… you won’t have the courage to drink it before taking out your camera and snapped pictures. They create animated characters from popular films using the foam on top of your coffee cup. Don’t forget the daily fresh-baked desserts on offer here.
Open Monday to Saturday 9.30 am to 6 pm, closed on Sundays.
Here’s a map of Coffee on the Table’s location: